Anything Photoshop or Photography

Posts tagged “Blend Modes


Image of some African Lilies

Decided to present a Reboot of this blog from July 2016 since I find it a really handy Dodge and Burn technique and it is easy to do – definitely worth a try for some types of images. I used it on the African Lily image above, along with Luminar 4 (once again used the Glow filter which I find gives a nice soft effect) – for website link check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar. A really simple action can be created to do this technique – I made one and set the color swatch to the default so the white comes up each time for the masks. Also created a brush to use with it. Pretty simple. So here it is again.

Painted image of a Laughing Kookaburra at the West Palm Beach Zoo
This technique is another simple way to dodge and burn an image using blend modes. I figure you cannot have too many different techniques for this – some pictures just do better with one over another. (Check out Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs links at end for some other techniques.) The bird above is a Laughing Kookuburra taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo. He has some very beautiful colors in his feathers.

This technique I learned at a Photoshop World several years ago and am not sure who even presented it. It was just in my notes so I thought I would give it a try and got some really nice results! For the bird the Linear Dodge (Add) blend mode really softened his head and the Linear Burn blend mode did a great job on darkening the feathers on his body.

The workflow is pretty simple:

  1. Duplicate the image twice after doing the basic color and tone corrections to the image.
  2. Add black layer masks to each layer by holding ALT key while clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon (rectangle with circle in center) at the bottom of the Layers Panel or by pressing CTRL+I in a white layer mask.
  3. Now on the top duplicate layer, change the blend mode to Linear Burn and name it Darken.
  4. On the layer underneath, change the blend mode to Linear Dodge (Add) and name it Lighten.
  5. Using a soft round brush set the Options Bar Opacity to 9% and Flow 55%.
  6. On the Lighten layer mask paint in white over areas to brighten. Do same for Darken layer mask on areas to darken. Since the Opacity and Flow are set fairly low, it will be a build up effect to get just the amount needed.

It is a very easy way to add a little color and/or focus to different parts of your image. If the effect is too strong, just lower the layer opacity. Also, the Linear Dodge (Add) blend mode could be used as a spotlight effect to fill darker areas with some soft light.

Just to let you know what is happening with this blend mode, here are the blend mode explanations according to Lesa Snider of in her Photoshop CS6 – the Missing Manual book (an excellent book BTW):

Linear Dodge (Add) – “Lightens your images by increasing its brightness. It is a combo of Screen and Color Dodge modes, so it lightens images more than any other blend mode. But since it tends to turn all light colors white, it can make an image look unnatural.”

Linear Burn – “In this mode (which is actually a combination of Multiply and Color Burn), Photoshop darkens your image by decreasing its brightness. Linear Burn produces the darkest colors of any Darken blend mode, though with a bit more contrast than the others. It has a tendency to turn dark pixels solid black, which makes it ideal for grungy, textured collages…”

From this it is apparent that Linear Dodge (Add) can make an image look unnatural so take care when using it. And Linear Burn can give a grungy effect so watch the results of this. Therefore if your image does not look quite right, try changing the layer blend modes to Screen or Color Dodge for the Lighten layer, and Multiply or Darken blend modes on the Darken layer. Experimenting with blend modes can give some great effects! Image of a Dragonhunter bug on flowerThis image is of a Dragonhunter bug (they like to eat Dragonflies) that was taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo and used this technique to bring out the wing patterns. Just painted areas to lighten and areas to darken. Used Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to add a slight vignette and the Sunlight filter to soften some of the bokeh effect that is a little too bright.

Hope you get a chance to try this little technique – pretty easy to do and can give some great results. See ya later!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create a Subtle Dodge and Burn Effect
How to Do a Basic Dodge and Burn with a Twist
How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image
The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!
What Does the Difference Blend Mode Do?
How to Use Linear Dodge (Add) & Linear Burn Blend Modes on Image – similar blog but with different images


Image of an Antique Show using a Difference Blend ModeThis week I thought I would do a short post on an effect that has always dumb-founded me, but often gives some great results – the Difference Blend Mode. The image above was taken during the day at the Deland Antiques Show. A duplicate layer above the background layer, where in this case Topaz (for website see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 was used to sharpen the image, was set to Difference and the “FILL” slider was set to 64% and Layer Opacity to 100%. If the Layer Opacity slider was set to 64% and Fill slider to 100%, a totally different effect would occur. This is one of the blend modes that show different effects when adjusting the Layer Opacity and Fill sliders. (The others are Color Burn, Linear Burn, Color Dodge, Linear Dodge-Add, Vivid Light, Linear Light, and Hard Mix.) Another effect was added to this layer by opening the Layer Style dialog (double click on layer in Layers Panel) and the Blend If This Layer white tab was set to 71/181 (to split tab, click on tab and press ALT+drag). (See my How to Get Blend If Slider Settings to Apply to a Layer blog for more info on this.) Three Camera Raw Radial Filters were added to highlight both the desk area even more and the mirror on the left. I was totally surprised with the results, but it shows what you can get with a little experimentation.

What the Difference Blend Mode is really doing is a little hard to understand. Sue Chastain has the best explanation for what the blend mode is doing in a link called The Difference Blending Mode. She says “…the Difference blending mode highlights the differences between the blend layer and the base layer. The more technical explanation is that the blend color is subtracted from the base color–or vice-versa, depending on the brightness–and the result is the difference between them. When white is the blend color, the base image is inverted. When black is the blend color, there is no change.” I guess that is why the images all appear a little dark in tone. Here is another very good link on how all the blend modes work called Photoshop Blend Modes Explained for more info on all of them.

Another good example of using the Difference blend mode is on an image I have presented before, but it is worth showing again so you can see a little different way to use the blend mode. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to a texture set to Vivid Light blend mode. The Adjustment Layer was set to set to a Difference blend mode at 71% Layer opacity and 85% Fill. The Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer can create some different results especially by changing the Hue slider, which is what was done in this case. Still get that spooky feeling in this image. For more on the original settings used in this image, see my blog My Version of Photoshop Tennis!

If you notice a strange color shift in your image when trying to create a stamped layer on top or are merging down a layer, this usually occurs when there are several layers using different blend modes, often including the  Difference blend mode. One way to fix this is to change your image to 8-bit mode before creating the stamped layer. Another way is to Create a New Layer in the Layers Panel directly below your Difference blend mode layer (or any layer you are having a problem using) Рthen CTRL+E to merge the layer down. This keeps the color intact but any attached layer masks will be lost.

A while back I created a short Tidbits blog called Complementing Those Complementary Colors on finding the complementary color in an image using the Difference blend mode. Comes in very handy at times so check it out. I hope you will try out this blend mode and several of the other less known ones – it can create that special effect you are looking for, especially if you play with the Fill slider. Have fun experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd